Please don’t leave your new (or old for that matter) board members dangling! Being a board member is not something we’re generally taught. In fact, it can be a complete mystery. Folks feel proud to have been recruited to join your board, and excited to begin their service, but… what happens next can mean the…Details
Early in my career a mentor taught me something I never forgot: You’re not being strategic unless you diversify your sources of revenue! Even though you may be sitting pretty right now, with a preponderance of funding coming from one or two major sources that seem dependable, you can’t assume this will always be the case. It’s…Details
I could just say (1) prepare, (2) prepare, (3) prepare, (4) prepare, (5) prepare, and (6) prepare.
Did I mention that you really need to prepare?
Preparation is the meta-message of Shark Tank’s “Mr. Wonderful,” Kevin O’Leary, to would-be entrepreneurs seeking to get spots – and funding – on the television show.
In “How to Present the Perfect Pitch: From the Shark Tank to the Boardroom” he offers 10 strategies to help you ace a fundraising pitch. Whether you’re seeking venture capital or a philanthropic gift, many of the principles are the same.
I’ve selected six strategies I find perfectly aligned with what it takes to make a successful nonprofit ask. I’ve also suggested some action tips. Take them to heart, and you’re sure to make your next in-person fundraising presentation a winner.
Oh, and there’s one more important thing, says O’Leary:
“The number-one rule is to make your pitch incredibly dynamic.”
Let’s do it!Details
When my daughter-in-law was interviewing for a job, she asked me for some advice. Here is what I found myself telling her:
Don’t focus on your needs. Focus on the employer’s needs.
Why are they hiring?
What problems do they need you to solve?
Which of your skills are they particularly looking for?
Can you describe to them how you might use these skills to help them?
Can you give a specific example, perhaps by telling a story, showing exactly how you’ll help them?
Are you clear what their values are?
CAN YOU DESCRIBE HOW YOU AND YOUR WOULD-BE EMPLOYER (DONOR) SHARE THESE VALUES?
I realized this is the exact same advice I give to fundraisers!
Meet your donors’ needs.
This is the heart of all effective fundraising, and the following should be your daily mantra.
“Today I will meet my donor’s need by…”
In fact, if you really want to become effective at your job, you will adopt this mantra for your interactions with co-workers as well.
“Today I will meet my colleague’s need by…”
This shift in your stance and approach may not seem like a lot, but it’s actually a game changer. By beginning with putting yourself in the shoes of another, you automatically open yourself to giving and receiving gifts. And I often say if you want gifts you must give them.
Before you engage in any fundraising strategy, ask yourself:Details
Studies show over 88% of all funds raised come from just 12% of donors.
In fact, the top tier of donors account for the lion’s share of all philanthropy. Just 3% of donors give 76% of all gifts.
If you’re not focusing your fundraising resources on these donors, this should give you pause. You’re missing a really big boat.
Plus, chances are good you’re fundraising in a manner that’s not exactly cost-effective.
You’re not alone. I run into this problem all the time.
- Board members want to do events.
- E.D.s want to focus on grants.
- New staff think the future is all in digital fundraising.
- Existing staff are wedded to increasingly less productive direct mail fundraising.
There’s nothing wrong with any of these strategies. However, generally they won’t give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Where you do get a huge return on investment is from an individual major gifts program, which costs you roughly 10 cents on the dollar vs. 50 cents or more on the dollar for special events fundraising and actually losing money on direct mail donor acquisition.
If you know the Pareto 80/20 Rule, you might want to focus just 20% of your resources on the lower-yielding strategies and 80% on major individual and legacy fundraising.
What’s holding you back from doing something so sensible?
Usually I find it’s one of the following reasons:Details
There’s a treasure trove of knowledge and research around major gift fundraising. What works well. What doesn’t work at all. What’s, at best, half-baked.
It’s not rocket science. But there’s definitely art, and some science, involved.
The gestalt way of thinking about the three secrets boils down to simply being:
(2) systematic and
But, the devil’s in the details. I’m pretty pragmatic, so I’d like to give you something more practical.
If I had to pick the top three practical secrets to success, they would be the following:Details
You want a smokin’ major gifts program, don’t you?
Of course you do. You want to light those babies on fire!
Better put, you want to ignite your donor’s passions, light the fire in their bellies, and help facilitate the type of philanthropy that will be a win/win/win – for you, your donors and the vision your organization seeks to attain.
You can’t do this without;
- Nurturing a pipeline that lights your donors’ sparks of interest,
- Fans the flames, and
- Patiently waits until ignition happens.
Sure, you could just light little fires. Fires that self-extinguish pretty quickly. But these aren’t the fires that will sustain you and keep you warm over the long haul.
That’s why every nonprofit, no matter your size, cause or longevity, needs to build a major gifts pipeline.
Otherwise, you’ll have nothing to smoke!
Want to learn how to stop running on fumes?
Let’s Build Your Major Gifts Pipeline in 10 Steps!Details
Over the pandemic I took some time to enroll in an intensive coaching course. Over Zoom, of course. It was designed for people who don’t necessarily intend to become certified life coaches as a career path, but who want to incorporate a coaching approach into their daily life.
The heart of this approach, I believe, can be distilled into two words. And they’re extremely useful for donor conversations:
When you’re genuinely curious about another person you ask questions to draw them out. And questions to help them get to the place they want to go; not where you think they should go. Because what’s right for you is not always right for someone else. They’ll tell you what’s right – with you acting as their guide – but only if you’re interested enough to ask.
It happens some questions are better than others if you want to get to the core of the matter at hand. We’ll get to those in a moment.
There’s a better way to have dynamic, effective conversations than jumping in prematurely with your own opinion. I’ve always known this, but it turns out there’s more to it than adopting the old adage: “You have two ears and one mouth; use them in that proportion.” Because it’s how you approach the listening that matters.Details
Huh? If that first sentence has you scratching your head, it’s time to take a moment.
I know. You’re thinking this is just semantics. You’re thinking that, of course, fundraising is about money. You’re thinking we can pretend it’s about something else but, seriously, we need money to fulfill our missions. I know what you’re thinking.
I want you to stop thinking that way. Because it’s getting in the way of you raising more (ahem) money. So… close your eyes. Breathe. Clear your mind. Ready? Okay… now…Details
This was another year of adaptation. Settling into some things, while feeling decidedly unsettled in others. Opening our eyes, minds and hearts to see, and be, things clearly.
This year continued to mark a shift in the direction of my content, as “business as usual” seemed out of sync with the times we found ourselves in. Much of the heart of fundraising remains constant, while much of the practice and culture is evolving. It is a time in which feeling our humanity, and coming from a place of love, seems more important than ever.
Today I summarize my writing of the year by sharing the articles that most resonated with readers out of the 70+ I created for 2021, including some popular oldies.
In case you missed them, here are last year’s blog posts with the most views, according to Google Analytics.
Plus, at the end, I’m sharing some photos I hope you’ll enjoy!